The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
The last chapter of The House on Mango Street is a vignette entitled "Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes." The eight little (and we do mean little) paragraphs of this segment of Esperanza's story do a lot to summarize what she has learned in the course of the novella, and who she has become.
So, presuming you've read the rest of the book, this vignette will be a bit of a recap of Esperanza's development as a character. And if you haven't read the rest of the book, read the introduction to find out why Sandra Cisneros herself thinks you'll still be able to appreciate the ending. And then go ahead and read the rest of the book, because really, it's good.
So, who is our narrator? She's a girl who likes to tell stories, a girl who makes a story for her life. She's a writer. She seems a lot surer of herself than she did at the beginning of the book, don't you think? This is a girl with a calling in life.
She's also "a girl who didn't want to belong," a statement that reveals to us how much Esperanza has changed (44.3). Only two vignettes ago, Esperanza proclaimed, "I don't belong" to her friend Alicia (42.3). Here at the end of the book, however, Esperanza has accepted Mango Street's formative role in her identity.
To emphasize our point, let's look at the fourth little paragraph in this section. "We didn't always live on Mango Street," Esperanza writes (44.4). Sound familiar? The repetition of these few lines takes us back to the opening phrases of the book. Is the narrator bringing us full circle, suggesting that nothing has changed? Nope – quite the opposite, actually. She brings us back to the beginning to show us how much she's changed. So what's different this time around? Instead of the interminable chaos of constant moving, what the narrator remembers most now is Mango Street, "sad red house, the house [she belongs] to but [does] not belong to" (44.4).
The last section of The House on Mango Street is pretty open-ended. Where is Esperanza going to go next? We have the feeling she'll be successful – after all, the three sisters predicted as much – but when will she find a house of her own? What will she write? Like the friends and neighbors Esperanza imagines leaving behind, we're left wondering what will happen to that Esperanza, where she'll go "with all those books and paper" (44.7). We're left on the brink of another story, one to which we know the ending in advance – she'll be back.